Cannabis Out! New York Drops Legalization From Budget Bill

Published on March 22, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Challenger Cynthia Nixon, in background, forced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to back adult-use legalization last year. But Cuomo has embraced it only when it's politically expedient. (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Based on recent comments by Governor Cuomo, it seems that New York is nearly guaranteed to cut its adult-use cannabis legalization measure from the state’s budget bill for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins April 1.

During an interview earlier this week with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was of two minds: He sought both to remain positive, claiming that legalization will pass by June, while also conceding that the bill may become more difficult to pass outside of the budget.

“When it’s not done in the budget, then it is, in my opinion, harder to do as a standalone bill because it’s now just marijuana with a capital ‘M,’” Cuomo said, echoing state Sen. Diane Savino’s remarks earlier this week that legislators who represent conservative parts of the state may not be able to afford to support an adult-use bill that’s not tucked inside a budget.

Opting Out: Not a Concern

When Lehrer asked Cuomo about the New York counties that have already announced preemptive plans to ban cannabis sales, the governor argued they won’t follow through (although California’s track record, for one, tells a different story).  

“I don’t think it’s determinative,” Cuomo said. “It does make a difference on the statewide revenues, and it will cost those municipalities, localities that opt out because then they would not get the local share of the revenues.”

“For us, [recreational] marijuana is a relatively new issue,” the governor pointed out, apparently in reference to the bumpy road the legislation has taken. “It really started with my proposal this year, but [legislators] have signaled that they need more time to talk about it,” he added, likely nodding to pushback that the bill doesn’t sufficiently address questions of diversity and equity.

Cuomo: ‘We’ll Get It Done This Year’

Despite these roadblocks, Cuomo insisted that he thinks the bill will pass by June, during the current legislative session. “I believe we’ll get it done this year,” he said.

“I said from Day One that the marijuana issue was going to be controversial,” Cuomo acknowledged. Although the path forward for legal cannabis in New York remains unclear, on this point the governor was indisputably correct.

Shop highly rated dispensaries near you

Showing you dispensaries near
See all dispensaries
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.
View Max Savage Levenson's articles
Get good reads, local deals, and strain spotlights delivered right to your inbox.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to Leafly's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.